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Marci Kwon

Marci Kwon

Assistant Professor
Art History
Art History
Ph.D. Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 2016


On Leave Until January 2022 

A scholar of American Art, Kwon's research and teaching interests include the intersection of fine art and vernacular practice, theories of modernism, cultural exchange between Asia and the Americas, critical race theory, and "folk" and "self-taught" art. Her book Enchantments: Joseph Cornell and American Modernism, forthcoming from Princeton University Press, explores Cornell’s attempts to figure enchantment—an ephemeral force that exceeds rational explanation—in his box constructions, assemblages, and cinematic experiments.  More broadly, this project uses Cornell’s artistic career and wide circle of acquaintances, which included artists, poets, writers, and filmmakers, as a lens through which to understand enchantment’s centrality to midcentury conversations about art’s relationship to the public, popular culture, and potential for moral authority.  This wide-ranging, interdisciplinary study explores Cornell’s engagement with a number of key episodes in American modernism, including the transatlantic migration of Symbolism, Surrealism, and ballet to the United States; the efflorescence of “folk” art in the 1930s; Abstract Expressionism; and the emergence of New York School poetry and experimental cinema.   

Additional articles address Isamu Noguchi,  Appalachian Springand Japanese internment (Modernism/modernity Print Plus,available online at; John Kane and amateurism, and labor (Third Text:2020); race and value (Saturation: Racial Matter, Institutional Limits, and the Excesses of Representation,MIT Press: 2020)Japanese internment crafts (forthcoming, Center for the Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts/NGA); Surrealism and folk art at the Museum of Modern Art (forthcoming, Making the Modern); Martin Wong and Orientalism (forthcoming, The Present Prospects of Social Art History); and photography and Cantonese opera in San Francisco Chinatown.  She is currently working on a book-length study of the intersections of art and anthropology in American modernism, and the racialized divide between "art" and "artifact." 

Kwon is the recipient of the University of Pennsylvania's 2016 Zuckerman Prize, awarded to the best dissertation in American art/culture and history, and her research has been supported by grants from the ACLS/Luce Foundation, the Getty Research Institute, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Mellon Foundation, the Terra Foundation, the Hellman Fellows Fund, and the Clayman Institute of Gender Research.   She has also held positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, and is currently a fellow at Yale's Center for the Study of Material & Visual Cultures of Religion and the Stanford Humanities Center.   At Stanford, Kwon is a faculty affiliate of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Asian American Studies, African and African American Studies, American Studies, the Center for East Asia, and Feminist and Gender Studies, and serves on the steering committee of Modern Thought and Literature.  Together with Aleesa Alexander, she co-directs the Cantor Art Center's Asian American Art Initative.  She is the recipent of the Asian American Studies Faculty Prize, the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity Teaching Award, and the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award. 

Sample Courses: 

Asian American Art, 1850-Present (undergraduate lecture)

American Mystics (graduate seminar)

American Art and Anthropology (graduate seminar)

Folk/Outsider/Self-Taught  (graduate seminar)

Migration and Diaspora in American Art (undergraduate lecture)

Objecthood (graduate seminar) 

Pacific Dreams: Art in California (undergraduate lecture) 


February 9, 2018


McMurtry Building, Room 115
October 20, 2017


Oshman Hall, McMurtry Building

Related News

Feb 28 2019 | Stanford News
In The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. Du Bois makes a prescient declaration: “The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color-line.”   As the United States...
Aug 7 2017 | Stanford News
A new student-run journal focused on art history and film studies, called Manicule, released its first issue last month. The journal showcases scholarly and creative pieces...
Jul 12 2017
First issue published!  View the online PDF here. Manicule is an annual, student-run publication that showcases new undergraduate writing in the fields of art history and...